Whether updating an outdated meeting space or outfitting a brand new office, finding conference room furniture that works can be challenging. We've compiled this comprehensive guide to help you easily set up your new conference room.
The Purpose of the Conference Room
Traditionally, a conference room can be either a large or a small room used specifically for meetings and discussions. Conventional conference rooms are also called meeting rooms and boardrooms, and they typically include a table in the center of the room with several chairs surrounding it. Some conference rooms are more dynamic and serve additional purposes, such as a training room, interview room, and/or collaborative workspace, by using mobile modular tables.
Today, many companies with space constraints often elect to use their conference room as a multipurpose space. Flexibility and movement should be the 2 biggest concerns, and the best way to implement both is to invest in multipurpose furniture. This will not only save space but will also increase the efficiency of the layout.
The Size of the Conference Room
Accurately measuring your space is the first step you should take when determining the size of the furniture you need. Account for extrusions (radiators, pipes, etc.) that could interfere with the layout. Take note of door and window placements and how any doors open, as that may affect furniture placement and layout. Overlooking doors can result in a very tight and uncomfortable entrance to their conference room.
Types of Conference Tables
Ovular and racetrack tables provide rounded corners that allow for more seating capacity and easier movement within the space.
Boat-shaped tables provide the best sight lines. The wider middle prevents employees and guests from sitting in a straight line, making it easier to see screens, presentations, and other meeting participants.
For round tables, you'll need to allow a 3-foot walkway around the entire circumference of the table. Round tables can be huge space savers in some rooms, but they can be awkward in other spaces when there is just not enough room for the walkway.
Regardless of table shape, consider a table featuring a power data module. With a power source built into the table, you can easily place projectors, phones, computers, and other electronic devices on the table surface without worrying about wall outlet placements and wire management. Depending on your needs, a table with a power data module can simplify your conference room setup.
Size of Conference Room Tables
The size of your room will be a limiting factor when selecting furniture. Generally, you want to allow 3 feet of space around any furniture to provide a safe and comfortable walkway. Measure your room, then subtract the space needed for the walkway.
If you have a 12’ x 12’ room, subtracting a 3-foot walkway around the entire room gives you 6’ x 6’ of space for furniture. If you only want a table and some chairs in this conference room, you would be able to select and fit a 6’ x 6’ table inside the room but nothing larger. However, a smaller table could be more beneficial if you want multiple furniture options, keeping in mind that the 6’ x 6’ dimensions must fit all of your desired conference room furniture, including credenzas, podiums, and chairs against the walls.
Although a 3-foot walkway is a good minimum, you may need more space depending on the layout of your conference room. The most important thing to remember is the comfort and safety of anyone walking or sitting in the space.
If you want to accommodate a certain number of people in your conference room, you should also apply this rule of thumb: the length of the table measured in feet is also the number of people the table can sit. For example, a 14-foot-long table can fit 14 people—6 on either side and 1 at each end.
Conference chairs are an essential part of every meeting room. They are designed to be comfortable but not overly complex so that meeting participants won't fiddle with complicated ergonomic adjustments during meetings. Since conference chairs are used by so many people, their adjustments are typically limited to seat height and tilt tension. With many different styles, meeting chairs also offer a way to define your space. Consider how the conference chairs will fit at your selected table.
Many offices occasionally need additional seating for their conference rooms. Stacking chairs and nesting chairs are great portable solutions. These should be selected with care as they should still project a professional image and store easily when not needed. Another option, provided ample space, is to line the parameter of your conference room with guest chairs. This can accommodate more people without overwhelming the meeting room with another table.
Whiteboards can be extremely helpful during meetings. Placing one or multiple marker boards in your meeting room will provide much-needed visual space to share and capture ideas. Choose from several styles and sizes, including the increasingly-popular glass boards to fit your room’s needs. Some whiteboards and glass dry erase boards can double as projection screens for presentations. Consider the placement of a whiteboard carefully, as you will want to ensure that everyone in your conference room will have a clear view of it.
Adding storage pieces to your conference room is essential for maintaining a well-organized space. Consider storage furniture that is space-saving and dual-purpose, like credenzas for supply storage behind cabinet doors while providing space on top for meeting materials. Also, consider how or if your storage furniture will need to open. Avoid drawers and doors that bump into other furniture.
Bookshelves give an air of sophistication to a conference room while also displaying important books, collections, and company literature and awards.
AV stands or media centers are necessary to hold TV screens and video/presentation components. Many AV stands allow you to easily adjust the height and tilt of your screen to ensure the comfort of all viewers. Media centers are a wonderful multipurpose option as they include storage spaceand create room for your screen.
Podiums are ideal if your conference room hosts large-scale presentations with speakers. Be sure to plan for enough space to keep the speaker at the podium comfortable.
Consider the ideal projector placement—if you wish to place it on the conference table, a conference table with a power data module would be the best option.
Design and Layout
When designing a conference room, we advise avoiding trendy furniture. Stay away from fads. Instead, go for a clean, timeless look, and you can avoid a costly upgrade for an outdated conference room a few years down the road. If you want to add some trendy colors, décor, or design, do so by adding it in the form of less expensive accent pieces. This way, you can still get the look you want while the conference room as a whole will stand the test of time.
If your conference room has windows, take advantage of the natural lighting. Good lighting, especially natural light, stimulates creativity and productivity. Install window treatments, like blinds, and use them to block out exterior distractions or when privacy is needed.
Finally, don’t overwhelm your space. An artificial plant is often a perfect finishing touch, as it can nicely tie a meeting room together without taking up too much space. Also, be sure to think about your wall space: hang artwork or install some storage furniture, as this can drastically improve the look and feel of a conference room.
Budgeting is vital. Budgeting forces you to decide what is necessary versus what would be nice to have in your conference room. To make the most of your budget, invest in durable, high-quality furniture and take the time to create a room that will stand the test of time.
Sometimes it can also be difficult to envision how your conference room should look. National Business Furniture design services use software that gives an accurate 3D rendering of what your conference room could look like. Using such software, of course, helps to ensure that your project will turn out how you envisioned it.